If you’ve listened to a vendor pitch, spent any time on LinkedIn or read any marketing blog this year you’ve heard the phrase: “The MQL is DEAD”.
Go ahead and Google it. Better yet, click here and look at these search results.
148,000 posts containing these keywords and then BOOM smack dab right there in your face. Our beloved “MQLs” as we know them are no longer living.
How can this be? Is this true? And the most important question we should be asking ourselves is, do we really care?
We’ll address these three questions in parts.
The MQL Has Us Conditioned
How did we get here? Well, we all know what the definition is so we won’t bore you with our definition of what a MQL is.
The most important thing with the historical MQL is permission. Building a permission based audience is one of the most important things when building your brand. If you don’t have an audience then how can you effectively market to them outside of a brute force sales team?
The MQL definition has conditioned us to wait for things. To wait for a contact to become whatever someone else decides is the next step in not that prospect’s journey but our predefined journey. It’s selfish and it’s not transferable. It’s conditioned sales to wait for marketing to fill the funnel. It’s conditioned marketing to wait for sales to tell them what’s working and what’s not working.
So to answer the question probed at the start of this first part…the MQL has us conditioned like a dog waiting for treats.
Is the MQL Really Dead?
Is this true? Is our prized MQL really dead?
You may not like this answer. The MQL is alive, well and MAYBE better than it’s ever been.
Here’s the facts, digital ad spend in B2B is up big time. Spend across all digital channels, according to The Drum, is up 22.9% YoY. Rising tides raise all ships and one of the biggest beneficiaries is content syndication. Numerous vendors have written about this like Intentsify, INFUSEmedia, Madison Logic, etc. You’ve probably bought leads from this tactic, probably had decent results, probably felt just okay about your decision on buying those leads AND probably bought them again and in some cases many more times. Why? It comes back to the conditioning.
In times of turmoil, the path of least resistance is typically the one that’s chosen. And you guessed it, that’s what happened starting from late Q1’20 – onward. Content syndication is easy. It’s familiar. It’s a way to generate something familiar with relatively low costs. And these vendors above + handfuls of others are up big this year as is our cherished MQL.
Many marketing teams are moving away from vanity metrics like the MQL and revenue is becoming the focus but the argument to be made is that you can’t show a path to revenue without a starting point. And you guessed it…the MQL is a starting point and can be a leading or lagging indicator to a revenue path.
The MQL is the start of a conversion. The MQL is the usher opening the door. The MQL is the gatekeeper. Someone has given you permission to come in and your only job from there is to not mess it up.
How the MQL Can Change Our Perception
Do we honestly care if the MQL is dead or not? Think about it. If the MQL can open up the path to a conversation then why do we want it dead oh so badly and does it really even matter?
As much as we know you’re waiting for an answer here, there is no right answer. One company’s MQLs can be alive and living its best life while someone else’s is stuck in the unsubscribe graveyard. Get over it.
If this year has taught us anything it’s that we have to adapt. If your traditional MQL program isn’t working, go out there and find another way to open up the path to a conversation. It could be by creating free content on LI, scraping the engagement data with a tool like PhamtomBuster and then automating outreach via LI to ask for someone’s email to gain that permission. You just hacked your way to generating that prized MQL. OR you can work with any of the syndication vendors in the market and push them to set certain engagement threshold rules to determine what’s qualified or not.
One of the best things about the MQL being alive or dead debate is that it opened up the floodgates for all different types of marketing technology vendors to help marketers improve the performance of their campaigns. Opportunities are endless these days.
In sum, the MQL is alive, but the way we’ve been conditioned to think about the MQL has changed. You can even say the way we’ve been conditioned is dead.
Embrace the change.